A little bit of history of me

Hello, I am Anne, man, 51 years old from the Netherlands and it has been a year since I wanted to start unicycling. The background to this is a long story, but to keep it short: I wanted to start a new hobby and unicycling was an alternative to skateboarding for me. During the year I also discovered this forum, with a lot of great tips.

In January of this year (2018) I started on a Friday evening at one of the few unicycle clubs here. I started practicing along a wall rack in the gym and later along the wall with a borrowed unicycle. And so the Friday night became my regular unicycle night. I noticed that practicing only 1 hour a week was too little to really get ahead, so I wanted to buy my own unicycle to practice outside the club.

In April I was able to pick up my unicycle bought at a webshop during the Dutch Unicycling Championships event in Breda. Then I searched in my neighborhood for a suitable place to practice. In May I discovered that I could practice well on a public basketball court: flat and with a fence around it. There I first started along the fence, but soon I tried to drive completely loose from the posts. Almost every day I practiced a small hour there and at one point I managed to cross the field in length without support.

After a while I start practicing directly in front of my house, starting from a post. That turned out to be a lot trickier, because the walking path in front of my house is not perfectly flat, but that also went better. As a first step towards free mounting, I started to try starting from the curb. In the end, that worked smoothly, but it was now summer and by now it was too hot to practice because of a heat wave and so I stopped for a while.

After this forced stop I continued from the curb. Unfortunately, things got worse and due to lack of motivation I started to practice less. A few weeks before the unicycling club would start again on Friday night after the summer break, I wanted to practice at home again. Unfortunately, I injured my left wrist after a terrible fall, which I have suffered for a long time.

The days were getting shorter, I practiced always in the evening (because of my work during the day) and eventually I found a few places where I could practice in the dark. In the meantime I have not been on the basketball court for a long time, but I use this new place to practice, both during daytime and in the evening.

I can now ride very short distances without support. I am also able to make left and right turns. I do exercises to learn how to freemount, but it seems that I have to practice a lot, maybe months. There are videos on the internet with step by step instructions how to free mount, but none of them seem to work for me.

I still enjoy unicycling, and although I am a very slow learner, I will continue practising for the time being.

Welcome to the forum. Sorry about your wrist injury. I hope you are wearing wrist protection. As a beginner, I decided to buy wrist guards after falling hard onto my hands. I was also a slow learner, but I devoted a lot of time to learning. As a beginner, I typically practiced 1.5 hours at a time, and I forced myself to keep practicing after initially getting tired. Learning took a lot of work, but the joy I feel while unicycling made all practice worth it. And there are always new techniques to learn. Congratulations on riding short distances and learning to make turns. Learning to mount is going to be important once you are able to ride longer distances. As a beginner I used the tire grab mount. It is not very elegant, but it gets the job done. Now it is harder to practice because the days are shorter. That may be easier when the days get longer. Keep us posted on your progress.

Here is a small update of my practice on the unicycle. I still do that regularly and with varying success. On some days I really get the feeling that I am getting better and then I drive a little further. On other days it just goes bad, where sometimes I hardly even manage to ride away from the post.

I signed up for two parts at the Dutch Unicycling Championship: the 100 and 800 meters. My main goal is just to reach the finish and that is hard enough for me. Until the moment of writing, I have never managed to drive 800 meters in succession. The championship is on May 18, 2019 so I have a little more time to get a little better.

After the championship, I will continue practising freemount, but it is very, very hard for me. That would above all give me the freedom to practice in many more places, instead of always riding a few hundred meters from the exact same place.

Unfortunately I only get better with unicycling very slowly. It continues to cost me a lot of effort, so I don’t expect that I can do nice tricks on my unicycle in the short term. If it comes to that, I think it might take years to do things like freemounting, idling, hopping and riding backwards.

Good to see your update, unijohn.

Yes, that’s my experience too. Some days it’s “two steps forward, one step back.” Other days it’s “one step forward, two steps back.” Many times I’ve had a good day of practicing where I did some skill easily, and when I tried again the next day it was as if I had only dreamt that I could do it!

Only a few incredibly gifted unicyclists will learn every skill, but working on unicycling is unicycling. That’s what we signed up for.

There are many worse ways to spend an hour than practicing unicycling, and no matter how well or badly it goes, I try to remember that I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to do it.

That sounds like it will be a lot of fun!

If you look at some of the ancient topics on this forum, there seemed to be some “I’m better than you” attitude in unicycling a couple of decades ago, during a little “boom time” when it looked like it might become very popular and there was something to gain from it. But I haven’t run into any of that myself in the 6 years (today is the anniversary of my first day practicing!) I’ve been riding. I think you will find that you get a lot of encouragement and acceptance and positive responses.

Yes, it really does help a lot. Here’s the thing though: No freemount is ever perfect, or not for me at least. Every time, my weight will be a little bit too far forward or backward, or I’ve turned myself to the wrong direction or I’m leaning to one side or my foot isn’t in the right place on the pedal, or some combination of these. The key is to be skilled enough at low-speed riding to recover from any/all of these things when I get on the saddle and ride off anyway.

Short way of saying that: Keep riding and working on your balance and recovery skills, and you’ll eventually find that freemounting isn’t so big of a challenge.

I can do those things now, and yes it did take years to learn them. But learning has been the fun part anyway. Enjoy the ride!

I tried to post this in the thread ‘Eli Brill and Chris Huriwai Beginner Tutorials’, but for some strange reason I am not allowed to post there, so I tried to post it here.

I have been practicing for over a year now and I still consider myself a beginner. For me, this type of video tutorials mainly means inspiration and both videos are beautifully made. The problem I have with almost all of these videos is that they mainly show how well the maker masters the skills and not the troubles that a beginner experiences. A number of things I see in the two videos are impossible for me, for example how Chris shows in his video from the second minute on how he gets on with the pedals horizontal and a hand against the wall.
At this moment I am practicing freemounting separately. No video seems to help me with that. It seems that the only way is to try it endlessly in the hope that I will one day succeed.

Not to pick on Eli Brill, but he basically demonstrates the beginners’ mount the way he does a mount, not a beginner. He suggests that he’s putting very little weight on the first pedal (demonstrating the principle by stepping on his friend’s stomach while unweighting). But, my impression from the video is that he’s performing a static mount, counteracting weight-on-the pedal with weight-on-the-seat…which is somewhat different from a jump with one foot on the pedal.

Most of my own learning process involved using “disposable” techniques. The way I initially learned was fundamentally a dead-end but acted as a bridge towards proper technique. Examples: Using a crutch, tire-grab mount, 6:00/12:00 mount, roll-back mount, and hands-flailing in the air. Arguably, it would be easier to learn the “right way” from the beginning, but this may not be possible for not-so-terribly-talented riders such as myself.

I still practice as often as possible and try to add some variation to the way I try to free mount. Now and then I manage to get on top of my unicycle, but not yet to ride away. I have the feeling that, among other things, that is because, when I start from the post I give myself a push and I only let go when my wheel is already moving. I am now also practicing starting from the post, where I do not push myself off.

There are many more details that I am discovering that are important to me, but that are not covered in online tutorials.

During these exercises I also notice that riding my unicycle in general is still going better. That gives hope for the future.

During summer, I did not practice for a while, but have since continued. I still can’t freemount.

For myself I have determined that the static mount is not the right one for me. I just can’t make the jump with one foot in the air. I tried to do a static mount, supported by a wall and trying to keep the pedals horizontal. The only way this worked was to lean far back when getting on. That will not work without support, of course.

Another problem I have with the static mount is that I am unable to drive away from a standstill. From the post I always give myself a push to get going. That is why a step from the curb is also unsuccessful.

I have seen on a video recording that when I try to step on my unicycle is first in the 5 o’clock position. After that I am forced to get off again in the 6 o’clock position. In the meantime I manage to push the upper pedal backwards in some cases. This seems to be the start of a roll back mount. It will probably take me months before I will be able to do this mount, but I am not giving up yet.

Small error: where I wrote 5 o’clock I should have written 7 o’clock.

I’m very impressed by your perseverance and your progress. However long it takes, once you have the new skill it’s yours forever.

How big is your wheel? That will make a big difference to learning a static mount. If it’s not a 20", it might be better to get a 20" to learn mounting and other skills.

It took me a long time to learn the static mount. Before that point, I was doing curb mounts, and I think that helped. It sounds to me like you aren’t getting your weight forward enough, even in a curb mount. A good practise for this is to go all the way over, and jump off the front, without even trying to get the second foot on the pedal. Then slow this moment down so that you can almost stop at the balance point. And just keep practising! One day you will do something that feels right, and it will mean you are nearly there.

Hi Richard,

I ride a Qu-ax Luxus 24-inch unicycle that I bought after practicing a similar unicycle that I had borrowed a number of times.

Stepping from the curb has not been successful for me. Only in the beginning I managed to mount this way a few times, but now it doesn’t work at all anymore.

I have the idea that my learning curve differs greatly from most other unicyclists. This is how I read that most people, once they can ride, can ride as far as they want. This is not the case with me. I participated in the Dutch Unicycle Championships and I did not reach the 800 meter finish. A few hundred meters before the finish my legs didn’t want to go anymore and I sat in the grass for more than fifteen minutes before I could walk again. Freemounting is for me many times more difficult than just riding and I have to figure out for myself what works and what doesn’t. That’s just the way it is.

What you are describing is not a static mount…to my understanding.

Static means stasis. A balancing of two forces. One force is pushing down on the seat, the other force is pushing down on the pedal. When the forces are balanced, the mount can be performed slowly. There is no need to “jump”, because the pedal is held in stasis. The pedals do not have to be horizontal (9:00) to perform a static mount. I suggest you start with the first pedal closer to its bottom position, because you will not have to put so much force on the seat in that position.

If you want to know what a static mount feels like, try mounting seat-in-front with both hands on the seat, holding on tight, leaning forward with most of your body weight over the seat, and pushing down on the seat with great force. You probably won’t be able to ride more than a half rev, but you will have MUCH more control over weight in the seat. Your current problem with mounting may be related to weight-in-the-seat being inconsistent during the execution of the mount. Jumping is going to make things even more chaotic.

If there is no one to help you in person, a short video of you attempting to mount would help us understand your struggles. Then we could give you better advice.

The learning process…

I am now 55 years old…started riding when I was 53. Like you I found it a huge challenge to say the least. Just when is loose motivation, is accidentally cross another milestone, I.e. Finally riding out the driveway or the like. Now after riding for two full years, I’m riding a 29" Uni…I can ride about 5 miles without stopping and have just about mastered idling. All I can say is this…other than advanced accounting class in college…it’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. Hang in there!

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